Today, the European Union announced its plans to develop a Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), an online platform designed to increase global participation in debates and decisions on Internet policies.
The European Commission will develop the initiative in cooperation with key players in the Internet governance arena. Countries such as Brazil and Switzerland, the African Union, alongside NGOs the Association for Progressive Communication, DiploFoundation, and the Internet Society (ISOC) have expressed an interest in being involved. Over the next few months, the Commission will carry out a feasibility study and, if the results are positive, development of the platform could begin next year.
The Observatory will monitor changes in Internet policy and the accompanying developments in technology and regulation across the world. Acting as a 'clearinghouse', it is hope that GIPO will overcome existing 'policy silos' and add context to the debates currently raging in the IG world. Using open data, data mining, and other advanced policy-making tools, GIPO will identify policy trends and disseminate its findings in accessible briefings and reports.
A lack of expertise and understanding among countries, NGOs, and interest groups has been responsible for marginalising some actors when it comes to debating and deciding Internet policy. There is a danger that given the sheer magnitude of the scope and influence of the Internet, some may choose to disengage from a process that requires maximum inclusiveness in order to be truly successful, legitimate and sustainable. This is where GIPO comes in. Rather than replace existing forums for discussion of global Internet governance (e.g. the IGF), GIPO is envisaged as a 'tool-box for stakeholders and an instrument to strengthen existing Internet policy-making processes, making full use of modern technology'.
For more details, see the EU's announcement.